Rituals - Judged by Religious Rituals - Colossians 2:16,17
June 28, 2022, 9:00 AM

"16. Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ."

In almost every letter Paul condemns legalism which threatens to cut the heart out of the Christian gospel. There were rituals that were ingrained in their religious culture. They were instructed by God to observe Holy days as well as the Sabbath. They had rituals as to how to dress, how to eat, who to eat with, how to worship and more. They heard about faith in Jesus Christ, but since you can’t judge one another based on what was going on inside, it was much easier to see piety based on the religious rituals if they were followed or not. Without those rituals we cannot compete very well in this game.

Are rituals bad? Can habits be rituals? I have a ritual every morning of having devotions and sharing devotions on the internet. I have a ritual of going to church every Sunday. Something is missing inside if I don’t practice worship.

I was visiting a church where the pastor was guilting his people in coming to prayer meeting on Christmas day which happened to fall on a Wednesday night. The ritual was to have prayer as a church service on Wednesdays. Rather than offer a different day or time he went on for a number of minutes telling them how coming to that meeting divided the good Christians from the carnal Christians. What better way to judge your spiritual life than come to a prayer meeting according to the rituals of Wednesday night prayer? People would cancel plans to be with family from out of town in order to please their pastor.

When does a ritual encourage my walk with the Lord and when does it take on pride that I have accomplished some rule? How do we determine what is of God and what isn't?

Paul gives us answer in verse 17. These rituals, he declares, are a mere shadow of the things that were to come. The reality however is found in Christ. If they have found Christ, they do not need the shadow any more.

Many honest seekers do not go to church today because they cannot keep up with the rituals expected of them.

I do not believe Paul was saying break the laws of God, but he was saying, do not think that man made rituals are going to save you or give you a better standing with God. The grace of the Lord has nothing to do with the works of man. The motive behind legalism is judging yourself and one another. God wants your heart not your performance.

Don't play the game of judging one another by your religious rituals. That is God’s job. Only He knows the heart that is open and honest.

Application: Is your morning devotional a ritual or a time you spend with Jesus.

Prayer:  Lord, guard my heart against legalism so that all I do in devotion to You is pure.